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Saints hero picks up Rising Star nomination

Graceful Gresham's goal of greatness Youngster Jade Gresham shows great poise to snap a brilliant goal
Jade Gresham celebrates his sensational goal against the Cats
I saw him coming and it was just my instinct taking over
Jade Gresham

THE IMMEDIATE lead-up to his final-quarter clutch goal against Geelong on Saturday night was a blur for Jade Gresham, but the young Saint is working towards producing those highlight-worthy pieces of play more often.

Gresham played a vital role in the Saints' famous three-point win over the ladder-leading Cats, clinching the round 14 nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star award.

The 18-year-old collected 16 disposals to go along with eight inside 50s. Not to mention the astonishing goal where he turned veteran Cat Tom Lonergan inside out, and then finished from tight in the pocket to cut the deficit to three points with just six minutes left in the game.

Gresham was nominated for the Coates Hire Goal of the Year award for his efforts.

"It was a bit of a blur, to be honest," Gresham told AFL.com.au.

"I saw him coming and it was just my instinct taking over. I was pretty lucky that he (Lonergan) didn't clean me up."

Gresham's elusiveness and cleverness was highlighted by that play but the instance in which he baulked superstar Cat Patrick Dangerfield, which saw the Brownlow favourite fly by him in his attempt to smother, earlier in the game was just as noteworthy.

"I've sort of always had a bit of a step on me," Gresham said.

"All the coaches and Richo (coach Alan Richardson) keeps saying to use it and for me to keep taking the game on.

"I've just got to bring it out a bit more, maybe."

Gresham, pick No.18 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, has established himself as the Saints' preferred small forward and has grown in confidence as the season has progressed.

He said the pressure was constantly there to keep performing, particularly with Jack Lonie and Jack Sinclair ready to step in when called upon.

"I feel like every week that I'm improving," Gresham said.

"I've just got to keep that consistency up and keep working on my game."

Gresham, who hails from the South Morang Football Club, has continued to receive advice from North Melbourne champion and family friend Brent Harvey.

Gresham's father, Jamie, played in the Northern Knights' 1995 premiership victory alongside Harvey and the Kangaroos star has kept a close eye on Gresham's development.

Jade Gresham even caught up with Harvey on the day of the game against the Cats.

"Over the last few years I've been in touch with him a fair bit and he's been there to help me out," Gresham said.

"He's really good at giving me a few tips here and there. He's been a ripper for me."

Gresham hopes he can graduate into the midfield over the coming years and is eyeing a big pre-season to ensure he has the tank where he can sustain a four-quarter performance on the ball.

"I've just got to keep building my endurance, so this pre-season is going to be a pretty big one for me," Gresham said.

"But, in saying that, I feel like I'm getting fitter and fitter every game."